Crew of NASA's earthbound simulated Mars habitat emerge after a year.

The crew of a NASA mission to Mars emerged from their craft after a yearlong voyage that never left Earth.

The four volunteer crew members spent more than 12 months inside NASA's first simulated Mars environment at Johnson Space Center in Houston, coming out of the artificial alien enviroment Saturday around 5 p.m.

Kelly Haston, Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell and Nathan Jones entered the 3D-printed habitat on June 25, 2023, as the maiden crew of the space agency's Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog project.

Haston, the mission commander, began with a simple, “Hello.”

Jones, a physician and the mission medical officer, said their 378 days in confinement “went by quickly.”

The quartet lived and worked inside the space of 1,700 square feet (157 square meters) to simulate a mission to the red planet, the fourth from the sun and a frequent focus of discussion among scientists and sci-fi fans alike concerning a possible voyage taking humans beyond our moon.

The first CHAPEA crew focused on establishing possible conditions for future Mars operations through simulated spacewalks, dubbed “Marswalks,” as well as growing and harvesting vegetables to supplement their provisions and maintaining the habitat and their equipment.

They also worked through challenges a real Mars crew would be expected to experience including limited resources, isolation and delays in communication of up to 22 minutes with their home planet on the other side of the habitat's walls, NASA said.

Two additional CHAPEA missions are planned and crews will continue conducting simulated spacewalks and gathering data on factors related to physical and behavioral health and performance, NASA said.

Steve Koerner, deputy director of Johnson Space Center, said most of the first crew's experimentation focused on nutrition and how that affected their performance. The work was “crucial science as we prepare to send people on to the red planet,” he said..

Emerging after a knock on the habitat's door by Kjell Lindgren, an astronaut and the deputy director of flight operations, the four volunteers spoke of the gratitude they had for each other and those who waited patiently outside, as well as lessons learned about a prospective manned mission to Mars and life on Earth.

Brockwell, the crew's flight engineer, said the mission showed him the importance of living sustainably for the benefit of everyone on Earth.

Source: www.wsls.com


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